big game party countdown party guests

Don’t drop the ball — kick off your party right with our football party timeline.

2 weeks ahead:

  • Send invitation. Choose a football-themed Evite that reflects the feel of the gathering you have in mind. And be sure to include any relevant info — for example, if you want to host a chili cookoff as well as watch the game, encourage guests to bring a pot of their own winning recipe in the invite.
  • Shop for and make DIY decorations. Create a pennant banner with felt and a table cover featuring football plays with black butcher paper and chalk ink markers (available at craft stores).
  • Shop for additional party décor. Whether you’re looking for a football-field table runner or pom-poms for the cheering section, find football party supplies at a party supply store.
  • Shop for tableware. Win your guests over with disposable football-themed plates, bowls, cups, and napkins. Or present party eats with style in plastic baskets with paper liners, metal condiment cups, and individual popcorn bags (available online or at restaurant supply stores). P.S. Don’t forget the cutlery!
  • Plan big serving items. Gather your cooler, serving trays, and bottle openers (best to have more than one). Don’t have everything you need? Buy or borrow whatever you’re short on.
  • Plan seating. Make sure you have enough seating for all your guests. You may be able to bring in couches and chairs from other rooms or borrow or rent folding chairs. You may also want to buy folding tray tables to minimize spills.
  • Plan activities and shop for supplies. Whether it’s touch football or touchdown toss (a version of cornhole using soft footballs), it’s always fun to have an activity planned. Don’t forget prizes!

1 week ahead: 

  • Shop for or order food. If your strategy is to make your own spread, get ingredients now. If you prefer to buy game time-ready food, put in big orders for wings, subs, and/or other dishes well ahead. Either way, don’t forget additional snack items such as pretzels and chips.
  • Buy beer and nonalcoholic beverages. Purchase a wide variety of beers or focus on brews from each team’s city. While you’re at it, pick up sports energy drinks (such as Gatorade), soda, and/or other nonalcoholic beverages.

2 days ahead:

  • Clean. Thoroughly clean the house (or if you can, hire someone to do it for you).
  • Set up tableware. Put out serveware, the cooler, bottle openers, etc.
  • Set up decorations and party activities. Put up decorations and set up activities so everything’s ready to go.
  • Ask a close friend to pick up ice on party day. Since this is a last-minute task, and you’re likely to be busy with party prep, ask a friend you can count on to come 15 minutes early and make an ice run for you on their way to the party.

Day of:

  • Pick up or make food. Prep food or pick up any dishes you may have ordered ahead of time.
  • Put out food and drinks. Fill the cooler with ice and beer and set out snacks.
  • Set up seating. Move and/or set up any additional furniture.

Planning ahead means you can throw a winning party and still chill on the sidelines with your guests once the on-screen action begins. Game on!